Greetings, fellow beleaguered Imperial Guard Lieutenants desperately pleading for an airstrike on the Tyranid swarm about to overrun their position! Welcome to this next instalment of our Codex: Space Marines review. Today, we cover the Black Templar special Characters (and Grimaldus’ attendant Cenobyte Servitors). I humbly apologies for the decreased tempo at which I’m releasing these reviews but new responsibilities at work have cut into the time/energy I have to write. I hope you will bear with me as I bash on but at a slower pace. Many thanks in advance!
High Marshall Helbrecht
Helbrecht is a bit expensive, coming in at 170 points. He does bring some nice features for those points, to be fair. First off, he has the fantastic Chapter Master ability, allowing all BLACK TEMPLARS units within 6” of him to re-roll all failed to-hit rolls. While you can always get this with a Captain (via the Chapter Master Stratagem), Helbrecht allows you to avoid having to spend 3 Command Points to do so. He also improves by 1 the Strength of all BLACK TEMPLARS models (not units) within his 6 inch aura; that’s not bad but a bit unwieldy and just strictly inferior to Pedro Kantor’s +1 Attack aura. Beyond what he can do for the army as a force multiplier, Helbrecht brings a tasty profile, with a 2+ save, a 4+ invulnerable save, 6 Wounds, a pseudo-Relic Blade (one less to Strength bonus) that gives Helbrecht +D3 Attacks when charging and a combi-Melta to boot! Sadly, being stuck on foot (once you are out of your transport, whether willingly or not…) is not ideal for CC Characters, but given that Crusader Squads do not have built-in mobility either, it is perhaps not as annoying as it may have been usually. All in all, though, I think a bit too expensive for what he brings to the party. If only his Strength-boosting bubble affected UNITS and not MODELS, I’d likely be singing a different tune.
The Emperor’s Champion
The most iconic Black Templar unit ever, the Emperor’s Champion is a cheap melee Character. For 75 points, you get a decent combat statline (2+ WS and 4 Attacks), decent survivability (4 Wounds, 2+ Armour Save, 4+ Invulnerable Save), a nifty sword (basically a Relic Blade that allows you to re-roll failed wound rolls when targeting CHARACTERS or MONSTERS) and a few nice rules to take down enemy Characters (gain +1 Strength and Attack within 1 inch of an enemy Char, and re-roll all failed to-hit rolls when fighting Characters). All of that is very nice, but it still pales compared to the increased efficiency spending those points on a Captain or Lieutenant would bring to your army as a whole. Let’s also not overlook the fact that bringing all of that Character-killing choppiness to bear would be so much easier if Big E’s man could take a Jump Pack or a Bike… Being on foot/needing to itch a ride is always annoying when you’re trying to be effective at melee combat.
Well… thanks for screwing up the only good Black Templars Character, GW! Pre-FAQ, Grimaldus was a pretty potent force multiplier: every BLACK TEMPLARS unit within 6 inches of him generated an extra attack in close combat for every 6+ hit rolls they made. Post-FAQ, this has been limited to MODELS in range of his aura; this makes it massively less powerful, obviously. Armed with a Plasma Pistol (which though shalt not overcharge!) and the customary Chaplain’s Crozius Arcanum, Grimaldus is in all other respects a normal Chaplain on foot, which is not ideal but as with Helbrecht, not completely crippling since Crusader Squads will be on foot/transport-dependant too – it’s just unfortunate he can’t have a jump pack as that would have allowed him to be included in more list builds.
The Black Templar’s second-best special unit (after Crusader Squads). These very cheap little guys (2 pts a pop) are supposed to accompany Grimaldus (and indeed, get improved Weapon Skill and Leadership in his presence) but in reality, best they be employed without him. While the 12 inch bubble of auto-pass Morale tests for BLACK TEMPLAR units that the Cenobytes generate is cool, the real boon these guys bring is that they are ridiculously cheap and come with a 4+ save. Ergo, dump them out of LOS (preferably in a ruin to gain a 3+ AS) on an objective to force your opponent to divert a likely far greater amount of combat power than should be warranted to get these guys off of said objective (or should he not go for that, you spent only 6 pts to hold a potentially game-winning location – score!). Its rare that I say something is a must-take, but for a BT player, I do believe Cenobytes would fall into that category.
So in a nutshell, not a great showing overall for the Templars. I really have to scratch my head at the fact Grimaldus was so heavily nerfed when Roboute Guilliman is still only 360 pts but the facts are the facts. Hopefully, when Chapter Approved 2017 comes out, our Boys in Black will get a much-needed price reduction. In the interim, Templar players can comfort themselves with the fact that they still get to enjoy what is likely the best Troop choice in the Codex.
See you next time, chums!